The kind readers of this series hopefully have grasped the dynamic significance of Sudhana’s quest for ‘supreme perfect enlightenment’ amidst the vast array of noble spiritual benefactors. After each visitation he grows exponentially in Noble Wisdom. Let us observe and break down what he has thus accumulated in today’s opening stanzas. As we do so, bear in mind that what is being transmitted accounts for a proper foundation for all who aspire towards Bodhisattvahood.
1. Being immersed in the endless vision of Buddhas
2. Is in an endless stream-of-communication with Bodhi-Beings
3. Is illumined with an endless display of expedient means utilized by the Shining Ones
4. One’s mind is broadened and made sure by the endless principles being exhibited by them
5. One is made pure by remaining steadfast in devotion to them
6. The mind-adept is imbued with Infinite Light of the faculties of Enlightened Beings
7. Is made-secure and indissoluble in the indestructible will-power of Bodhi-Beings
8. One follows the infinite divine-practices of Bodhi-Beings
9. One generates the unshakable vows and thus infinite power of the Shining Ones.
10. Is endowed with the unbounded invincibility of the Bodhi-Beings.
11. Thoroughly abides in the immeasurable light of Buddha-gnosis displayed by them
12. Being eternally-aware of the Holy Dharma of Enlightend-Beings.
In today’s account, Sudhana makes delightful contact with “the perfumer”, Samantanetra; in so doing he is once again introduced to another form of miraculous healing ability like he encountered earlier with Asha.
Samantanetra said [to Sudhana], “It is good that you aspire to supreme perfect enlightenment. I know the maladies of all sentient beings and how to cure those maladies. All who come to me from the ten directions, I cure of their maladies. Once they are cured, bathed, and anointed, I satisfy them with suitable ornaments, clothes, and food, and furnish them with immeasurable wealth. After that I teach them, presenting impurity to rid them of lust, praising great love to rid them of hatred, showing them analysis of elements to rid them of delusion. I teach them to get rid of the afflictions of action equally combining lust, hatred, and delusion by illuminating the ways to higher knowledge. I clarify the means of producing the determination for enlightenment by talking about the virtuous qualities of all buddhas. I elucidate the means of producing great compassion by showing the immeasurable miseries of the mundane world. I elucidate the means of attaining immeasurable virtuous qualities by describing the accumulation of vast stores of goodness and knowledge. I elucidate the means of producing the vows of the Great Vehicle by showing the development and guidance of all sentient beings…
Observe how after healing recipients with his blessed-anointment, Samantanetra “clothes-them” with a Buddha-gnosis that will dispel all further vexations of body, mind, and spirit. Samantanetra assures the one healed that the best-medicine and sure-cure against all dis-eases is being illumined with that Higher-Gnosis that emanates from the virtuous qualities of the Buddhas themselves. Samantanetra is known as the “perfumed-one” because he has mastered the siddhis of issuing-forth a hallowed-fragrance that brings wholeness of mind as well as placing one squarely in the assembly of all-Buddhas:
“I also know how to compound all scents, incenses, perfumes, and
unguents. Moreover, I know the ball of fragrance making offerings on meeting buddhas everywhere, pleasing to all beings. By this ball of fragrance all wishes are fulfilled; by it I produce multitudes of dwelling places, and so on, including multitudes of all kinds of offerings for buddhas. Whenever I want to make offerings to buddhas, I produce clouds of towers of fragrance and cause them to appear in all universes, in the assemblies of all buddhas. I
adorn all universes with purification of buddha-lands, palaces of fragrance,
walls of fragrance, turrets of fragrance, arches of fragrance, windows of fragrance, penthouses of fragrance, crescents of fragrance, parasols of
fragrance, banners and pennants of fragrance, canopies of fragrance, webs of
fragrance, lights of fragrance, immaculate adornments of fragrance, and rain
showering from clouds of all fragrances.
Our next “kalyānamitra” is a different kettle of fish altogether. Imagine Sudhana’s dismay when this purported spiritual benefactor and mentor harbors a dark entourage that metes-out harsh judgment and punishment upon the unruly:
Then Sudhana went to King Anala and saw him sitting on a great jeweled
lion throne brilliant with diamonds, set on legs of countless varieties
of luminous jewels, with beautiful figurines inlaid with jewels, arrayed
with cowrie shells on golden threads, lit by many jewel lamps, in a lotus
calyx made of magic gems, spread with many precious celestial robes, perfumed with various celestial incenses, embellished with a hundred
thousand jeweled parasols, adorned with a hundred thousand jeweled banners, beautified by trailing flower garlands made of varicolored jewels,
covered by a canopy of various celestial jewels. The king was young and
handsome, with the marks and embellishments of a great man, wearing a
crown of wish-fulfilling jewels, his forehead adorned with golden crescents,
pure blue sapphire earrings hanging from his ears, a breastplate
radiant with jewels on his chest, bracelets of the finest celestial gems on his
arms, shaded by a large precious parasol with a cane of pure lapis lazuli and
a thousand ribs of jewels with a gold covering, a wreath of jewel bells
sweetly ringing, illumining all directions with its luster. The king had
great regal power; his rule was invincible to enemy armies, his sovereignty
was free of danger from enemy armies.
Sudhana saw ten thousand ministers gathered around the king conducting
the affairs of state. He also saw ten thousand torturers before the king,
looking like the warders of hell, of violent, terrifying appearance, holding
swords, axes, spears, clubs, and impaling stakes, involved in punishing those
to be punished. He saw criminals—thieves, bandits, murderers, troublemakers, rapists, and so on—brought bound before King Anala and saw the king deal out appropriate punishments: by the king’s order, some had their hands and feet cut off, some had their ears and noses cut off, some had their eyes gouged out, some had their limbs or heads cut off, some had their whole bodies burnt by fire, some were being dismembered, crippled, burnt, sprinkled with acid. Sudhana watched them undergoing such harsh, injurious, and deadly punishments and saw a mountainous heap of rendered body parts on the execution ground and a tremendous torrent of blood. He also saw animals and birds eating the mutilated corpses there. He also saw some of the corpses hideously decomposing. He also heard the screams and cries of those being mutilated and killed, as terrifying as hell…
Quite a scene reminiscent out of something like Dante’s Inferno. Sudhana cannot fathom even the possibility that this young and apparently “sadistic” young King could be a spiritual mentor and guide in the ways of the Buddhadharma:
Seeing that dreadful, horrifying butchery, Sudhana thought, “I have set
out for supreme perfect enlightenment for the sake of the welfare and happiness of all beings and am devoted to pursuing the practice of enlightening beings; I ask spiritual benefactors what good an enlightening being should do and what evil one should avoid. This King Anala, though, is devoid of goodness, an evildoer, malicious, a killer and oppressor, without regard for others, doomed to a miserable fate: so how can I hear about the practice of enlightening beings from him?”
As this dire thought crosses his mind another set of celestial agencies, similar to the ones he encountered with the seer, Jayoshmayatana, appear on the scene and once again urge Sudhana never to doubt the ways and methods of the spiritual benefactors; yea, their ways are indeed inconceivable. Trusting in this vision he begins to question King Anala. He joins the King in his royal sanctuary, one that is aligned with countless jewels and magical gems. King Anala queries Sudhana, asking if it is possible that a “villain” could obtain such riches and a regal position. Sudhana responds, “No, indeed, noble one.” It’s then that we discover the real nature behind Anala’s apparently cruel means of punishment.
The king said, “I have attained enlightening beings’ magical liberation.
The people in my realm are given to all sorts of evildoing murder, theft,
rape, falsehood, slander, vilification, divisive talk, covetousness, malice,
false views, villainy, violence, cruelty. I am unable to turn them away from
evildoing by any other means, so in order to subdue them, mature them,
guide them, and secure their welfare, out of compassion I have illusory executioners kill and maim illusory criminals, making a display of intense
suffering and pain; seeing this, the people in my realm become afraid to do
evil. Seeing the people alarmed by this device, I have them give up evildoing
and conduct themselves virtuously; then I establish them in ultimate security,
the end of all suffering, the bliss of omniscience. I do not harm anyone
by thought, word, or deed. I would sooner go to the deepest hell than so
much as think of hurting even a dumb animal or an insect, much less a
human being, who has potential for virtuous conduct. I do not do anything
bad even in dreams, much less while awake.
One can surmise from this exchange that the kingdom Anala rules is similar to our own saha-realm. The way he keeps his unruly subjects in-check is by using what he calls, “magical liberation.” Illusionary executioners appear like a vision in a dream and slaughter illusory criminals. Sudhana himself in this episode was privy to such a vision. This is similar in tone to, let us say, the Wizard of Oz, who rules his domain with an illusory and frightful “projection” of his terrible alter-ego. Quite a lesson here. Spiritual Benefactors would never inflict harm or injury over sentient beings, yea they would “sooner go to the deepest hell than so much as think of hurting even a dumb animal or an insect, much less a human being”; yet, they will use the best tools (expedient means) at their disposal to counteract any evil tendencies.